Avengers: Infinity War by Alan Silvestri (deluxe edition)

Legendary composer Alan Silvestri has once again been very productive lately. In early 2018, his outstanding score for Steven Spielberg’s film Ready Player One had received high praise and on top of that he was given the opportunity to also score the latest Marvel production – Avengers: Infinity War.

In 2011, the composer had been hired to score Captain America: The First Avenger and The Avengers followed one year later. These are two blockbusters for which an experienced and brilliant musician like Alan Silvestri can bring a lot to the table.

I am sure films of this kind are not everybody’s cup of tea and I certainly don’t blame you. The abundance of action can indeed be very exhausting and in terms of story and content, they really don’t offer that much – but this is an aspect the filmmakers are apparently not aiming for. Nevertheless, these films entertain millions of people all over the world and they are certainly marketable to say the least.

Music-wise, these are movies that offer any composer a tremendous opportunity. If that composer happens to be Alan Silvestri, then you are likely to be in for a real treat. This time, fans of Silvestri and The Avengers can look forward to a really well-produced and extensive album – or two albums to be exact.

On April 27th, Hollywood records released a 72-minute album as well as a 116-minute deluxe edition digitally. The shorter of the two versions, which is also available physically, covers several highlights of Silvestri’s score whereas the digital expanded edition seems to feature pretty much the complete recording of the score. As a result, the primary concern one might have is the total running time and general listening experience. All things considered, it appears to be just a bit too long after all. On the other hand, it is sometimes simply better to have too much music than too little. If you dislike certain cues, just skip them. If you were to find out that your favorite cues from the movie had not been included in the first place, you would probably be more disappointed. There are many examples of very fine scores that had an insufficient release.

If you have the desire to experience the full “Avengers feeling”, then I recommend you buy the digital download nonetheless as it features an additional seven cues and a substantial amount of the other ones has been presented in an expanded form.

The album starts off with the nice but brief cue “The Avengers” which is basically just the theme, followed by the extended version of “Travel Delays” – a piece that starts rather slowly, but turns into a solid suspense / action cue that makes you crave more of that. Certain moments of this particular cue echo bits of Judge Dredd. As a matter of fact, quite a few bits of this score sounded familiar (in a positive way).

The action cues are well-executed. “He Won’t Come Out” is a well-written piece of music that offers some exciting material. In “Field Trip” the action continues on a large scale as Silvestri delivered the best action cue of the score’s first third. Silvestri really is on a roll as you can clearly hear in “We Both Made Promises” and “Help Arrives” – the latter ranks among the score’s finest cues. 

All the time, the music feels organic as it was written for a large orchestra. After a thunderous start, the speed slows down a bit. As of track eighteen, the ride becomes really exciting again. “More Power”, which at times is reminiscent of Alan Silvestri’s Eraser, stands as another noteworthy cue.

We hardly have some time to breathe as Silvestri lays another action goody on us. In “Charge” we get to hear some nice percussion elements and very attractive brass writing to boot. From this point on, the excitement barely lets up.

Despite some “shortcomings” in between, Alan Silvestri’s writing and his use of the orchestra are absolutely superb. His musical style is one of the most easily recognizable ones and I mean that as a compliment. He once again delivers a largely entertaining and sophisticated score. If you hire a composer like Alan Silvestri, you are likely to get quality. Thankfully, the filmmaking team did not settle for any lesser approach and Silvestri was given the chance to do what he does best.

Ready Player One by Alan Silvestri

Legendary director Steven Spielberg surely has been very prolific again. Only four months ago, his acclaimed film The Post had been released and recently Ready Player One hit the theaters. As a matter of fact, the latter was actually scheduled for December 2017. However, due to the fact that Star Wars – The Last Jedi had already opened, the premiere of Ready Player One was pushed back a little.

For his most recent project, the brilliant director brought Ernest Cline’s science fiction novel to the big screen. The story revolves around the orphaned teenager Wade Watts (Parzival) who, in order to escape the bleak and desolate reality of the year 2045, finds comfort in virtual reality.

The film itself is not the kind of project you would associate with Steven Spielberg right away. He indeed tried something new and fresh and I must say that it worked quite well. Despite the film’s fast-paced and spectacular action sequences, I did not think that Spielberg was pushing it too far. In many ways, I felt that he did what he had to do in order to realize his vision properly. In the video game world all bets are off and there are basically no boundaries. You dive into a digital world and you are likely to be mesmerized by it. Despite the film’s big sequences, Spielberg still takes his time to tell the story and he nicely portrays the characters. The cast was put together well and I felt that all actors did a convincing job.

The film is filled with nostalgia as there are many references to the 1980s. On top of that, many easter eggs can be found and I must say that, for non-movie buffs, it might be at times hard to really understand every reference that is presented. Steven Spielberg also provides many feel-good moments. The dancing sequence between Parzival (Wade Watts) and Art3mis (Samantha Cook) stood out in particular. It was really fun to watch the characters dancing along to the Bee Gee’s hit Staying Alive. However, my absolute favorite moment of the entire movie was the recreation of The Shining. In this particular sequence, the characters find themselves in the Overlook Hotel. It was a stroke of genius. The setting of The Shining was incorporated stunningly.

“Never change a winning team” seems to be a Spielberg motto as he, with one very notable exception, once again reassembled his regular crew. (Editor Michael Kahn and director of photography Janusz Kamiński). This time, one of his most loyal companions, John Williams, was not available to score the picture and Alan Silvestri, one of Hollywood’s most beloved composers, got the chance to work his magic. Reportedly, he was recommended directly by John Williams.

As far as the score for Ready Player One is concerned, I was never really worried about the outcome. As I mentioned already at some point in the past, Steven Spielberg is one of those directors who is very much aware of what music should do in a film. All of the scores John Williams wrote for his movies are an integral part of the story. He allows the composers to really express themselves musically so his projects receive the music they deserve. No matter how great most of Spielberg’s film are – they would not be the same, if it wasn’t for the music.

In many ways, Ready Player One is classic Alan Silvestri material. It features all of the ingredients so many people love about his music. The score album is a massive two-disc set featuring over eighty minutes of music. I must say that WaterTower once again released a great edition. The album starts off with “The Oasis” –  a superb choir piece that underscores the sequence when Wade Watts takes the audience inside the video game world for the first time.

This project certainly contains many sequences that needed big orchestral and very rhythmic music. In “Why Can’t We Go Backwards”, Alan Silvestri skillfully and brilliantly underscores one of the first huge action sequences. This piece showcases his incredible talent for writing big, exciting and mesmerizing music. As the film includes many references to several classic movies, Alan Silvestri also quotes his own Back To The Future score a couple of times. Long time fans of the composer, will certainly recognize his style right away – brass, woodwinds, strings and basically the entire instrumentation is pure Silvestri. He not only manages to write very exciting music for the action, but he also once again shows his gift for beautiful melodies. Once thing is for sure – when Alan Silvestri delivers, he does so big time. Cues like “Looking For A Truck” are simply masterful. This is not some generic and totally trite action music – this is action scoring at a very high level. For many cues, Silvestri brought out the big guns. His signature brass fanfares combined with his fantastic string writing result in a very rewarding listening experience.

Fans of quality film music really get their money’s worth here. It is one of the finest scores Alan Silvestri has written in years. This time we even get a proper album presentation right away. There are quite a few great scores of his that did not get the release they deserved. During the final ten minutes of the album, you get to hear some of the score’s most important and best material. Alan Silvestri proved once again that he is one of the very best composers around. The primary themes are very catchy and downright hummable. How many times do you walk out of the theater these days humming a theme? How many scores stick with you right away? If you find one, you should grab it right away and cherish every minute of it. Ready Player One is one of my favorite scores of the year so far and it certainly stands as one of the best ones Alan Silvestri has written in his long and very impressive career. Music of this kind is the reason why so many people fell in love with film music in the first place. We certainly have a winner here. Well done, Mr. Silvestri!